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August 06, 2008

When "CPA" means "Jew"

Timothy Noah covers the Lieberman-Cheney debate in October 2000

. . . and it's really quite obvious that Cheney's reference to CPAs is a not-so-veiled allusion to Lieberman's Jewish background. What Cheney said was, "You have to be a CPA to understand what he just said." A CPA. Get it? He could just as easily have said, "You have to be a Jew to understand what that Jew just said." And then Cheney went on to say, "The fact of the matter is the plan is so complex that the ordinary American is never going to ever figure out what they even qualify for." The "ordinary American," as opposed to the Jew. That's not very subtle, either, painting the Jew as the Other.

I asked a Cheney spokesman why the Vice Presidential nominee had used these stereotypes of Jews, and he insisted that Cheney was not alluding in any way to religion when he criticized Lieberman's answer. "That's just idiocy of the highest order," he told me. But I firmly disagree that a religious reading of Cheney's answer is "idiocy." Cheney's failure to see it is just a wee bit clueless. I mean, when was the last time you met a CPA who wasn't Jewish? You know how good Jews are with money, right? That reminds me of an episode of "I Love Lucy," in which Ricky . . .

Update: Timothy Noah covers the Bush-Ferraro debate in 1984

The subtext of Bush's call for cutting taxes is clearly Ferraro's husband John Zaccaro's financial dealings, which is a backhanded way of saying that women are responsible for whatever mischief their husbands engage in. That is, it's impossible for women to have any independence once they're married. Another implication is that women are essentially innumerate.

Update: Timothy Noah covers the Lincoln-Douglas debates

. . . and Lincoln just can't keep himself from throwing around the word "slave," which is clearly a code word for "black."

Slate: When "Skinny" Means "Black"